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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 79

than a clearing on the edge of the frontier, although it was also an average country college for the day and included among its students, besides Hawthorne and his particular friend Horatio Bridge, a future president and a feature poet—Franklin Pierce and Longfellow. After graduation in 1825 Hawthorne returned to Salem not yet finally decided upon a profession but evidently with a stronger drift, perhaps even a stronger determination, toward authorship than he was accustomed to admit.
  The records of his life between this and the appearance of Twice-Told Tales (1837) are dusky and brief. His mother, since her widowhood in 1808, had lived in a rigid seclusion which naturally influenced the entire family, confirming in her son an original tendency. “I had very few acquaintances in Salem,” he afterward said, “and during the nine or ten years that I spent there, in this solitary way, I doubt whether so much as twenty people in the town were aware of my existence.” He rarely left the house except by twilight, but endlessly read and reflected, instructing himself in the dim Puritan past and absorbing into his imagination the residuum of its spirit, even while he grew increasingly critical of its doctrines. The gesture of sentimental asceticism with which the hero of his first book, the smooth but undistinguished Fanshawe (1828), in the conclusion waves aside a proposal of marriage from the heroine only himself to die interestingly of consumption within two paragraphs, could have come naturally from Hawthorne’s pen during but an inconsiderable period, for though solitary he was not morbid, and he developed in the grave sunniness of his temper as clearly as in any other quality he possessed. Viewing the matter



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